Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
As promised, here’s Mark Waid’s personal picks for his top ten greatest stories ever told.
Here is the list of the other creators and characters who were featured (including a link to the reader vote for Mark Waid’s Greatest Stories).
Thanks so much to Mark for playing along! Do note that Mark specifically told me that he was not going to pick any comic from the last three years. He noted that it was “not because I’m not equally proud of it but simply because I don’t feel like I have any real personal perspective on it yet.” So keep that in mind if you’re disappointed that, say, Irredeemable or that great Amazing Spider-Man arc he did with Marco Martin are not on the list!
I’ll include in brackets where the story ranked on the reader’s choice for Waid’s Greatest Stories Ever Told (if they were in the Top 20, at least, as honestly, I didn’t keep track after that).
10 (tie). JLA #43-36 “Tower of Babel” 
We’ve long heard tell that, if he were properly motivated, Batman could take down pretty much any hero (like if they went crazy, etc). Well, in this storyline, Ra’s Al Ghul uses Batman’s secret contingencies for each hero to take down the Justice League. Even if the League can manage to survive the plans Batman had for them, can they possibly forgive him for it? Howard Porter and Steve Scott drew this arc, which was Waid’s first arc as the regular JLA writer.
10 (tie). Impulse #3 “How to Win Friends and Influence People” 
In this done-in-one issue drawn by Humberto Ramos, Bart (Impulse) Allen enrolls in school and does a series of hilarious speed-related activities that soon make him the most popular kid in school. This issue was extremely well crafted by Waid, as it managed to seemingly be manic while secretly carrying out a distinct plot point.
9. The Kingdom: Offspring #1 “Flexibility” 
This tie-in to the Kingdom Come sequel (which gave us Hypertime, which was awesome!), The Kingdom, spotlighted Plastic Man’s son, Offspring. It was a well-told issue with a surprising amount of pathos. Plus, it was drawn by Frank freakin’ Quitely (back when he was just Frank Quitely)!!!
8. Captain America #445-448 “Operation: Rebirth” [8…spooky, huh?]
After a cool opening issue of their run where they get people used to the idea of a world without Captain America, Waid and Ron Garney come out blazing in #445 with the RETURN of Captain America! Brought back from the dead by his oldest enemy, the Red Skull, Cap is quickly thrown into an epic battle against no other than Adolf Hitler himself! Forced to team up with the Skull, Cap is shocked to learn that there is a third member of their adventure trio – Sharon Carter! You mean Agent 13, who’s DEAD? Yep, that’s the one! So this bizarre threesome take on Hitler and the Cosmic Cube in an action-packed drama that feels very much like a forebear to the terrific Ed Brubaker Captain America work of the last few years.
7. Silver Age: Dial H for Hero #1 – ‘The One-Man Justice League’ [N/A]
This tie-in to Waid’s fun Silver Age event was drawn by regular Waid collaborator Barry Kitson. The Silver Age event let Waid get cut loose with his love for DC’s Silver Age characters, and the results were an utter blast, including this Martian Manhunter/Robby Reed team-up. Hey, is this the first issue showing Robby Reed as living in Colorado?
This is the second comic on this list from May 2000 – a pretty good month for Waid, huh?
6. Potter’s Field [N/A]
The most recent series on the list, Potter’s Field is a brilliant detective series by Waid and the great Paul Azaceta which follows a fellow named John Doe who goes to “Potter’s Field” (the graveyard for the anonymous) and discovers the identity of the John and Jane Does in the graves (typically also solving their murders) and engraves their names on to their graves. A great high concept and a great execution. Potter’s Field is available in a beautiful hardcover from Boom! Studios! Go get it!
5. Kingdom Come 
Waid and Alex Ross put together this epic mini-series which showed a world where “grim and gritty” heroes have proliferated to the point where they are not even really heroes anymore. A great tragedy that was a result of one of the fights involving these heroes brings Superman out of retirement in an attempt to bring heroism back. But can Superman’s heroic idealism win out when the methods used involve throwing dissenters into a gulag? A gulag that seems to be a big super-powered powder keg? Lex Luthor, meanwhile, has his own plans to take advantage of the situation and what role will Batman take in all of this? The Spectre brings a mild-mannered minister to witness all of it.
4. Superman Birthright 
In this 12-part maxi-series, Waid and Leinil Francis Yu update Superman’s origin and beginnings to his career for the first time in nearly twenty years!
3. Fantastic Four #60 “Inside Out” 
Waid and the late, great Mike Wieringo began their acclaimed Fantastic Four run with this special one-off nine-cent issue that gave us the hidden (and heartfelt) origin of exactly why Reed Richards chose to call himself “Mister Fantastic.”
2. Flash #73-79 “The Return of Barry Allen” [2…that’s two perfect matches! Cool.]
Wally West’s greatest dream turned into a nightmare as his uncle, Barry Allen, the Flash before Wally, returns to life. Only thing are not what they seem, and soon Wally is forced to collect a group of speedsters to confront Barry, who has returned…different. This storyline introduced Max Mercury to the title and really began the whole “Speed Force” idea that became such a major part of the title. In any event, while Wally gets help from the other speedsters, he soon learns that it ultimately comes down to him and his own fears of replacing his uncle to win the day. Greg LaRocque drew this arc, in his swan song on the title, after a long run as penciler.
1. Flash #0 “Flashing Back” [6 as part of Terminal Velocity, 19 on its own]
While traveling through time (due to events in Zero Hour, DC’s crossover of the time), Wally sees various major points in his lifetime, including a mysterious visit he remembered changing his life as a child. This was the set-up for the classic Flash storyline Terminal Velocity, as during the journey through time he sees a glimpse of the future that shakes him to the core and sets him off on a journey to avoid having that future come true. A striking done-in-one tale drawn by the great Mike Wieringo (who was just about at the finishing line of his great Flash run with Waid).
Thanks again to Mark for sharing his picks with us! Very cool of you.
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